When Brigham Young first taught in initial outlines of what is now known as the “Adam-God Doctrine” (or the “Adam-God Theory”—the preferred term by those who want to downplay its status within LDS doctrinal development) some commented that with this theological position the cat was truly “out of the bag!” It came as a huge surprise to almost all who heard him preach it, but soon most leaders and members came to accept it and even like it very much. Indeed, although never presented to the Church membership for approval or made official through insertion in scripture (unless one wants to think of the lecture given before the veil in the temple as “scripture”?) it is hard to deny that for several decades of the Nineteenth Century the doctrine spelled out the dominant understanding among Latter-day Saints of God(s) and roles for humans who would some day become exalted beings. Later distancing from the teaching led leaders to downplay its status or even outright deny that it was ever taught (using the rhetoric that Brigham Young was misunderstood and/or his statements were deliberately taken out of context by Church enemies), but this simply isn’t the case. It was taught; it was influential; most prominent leaders believed it with many claiming that its truth had been confirmed to them by the Spirit.
So what is this doctrine? What is its history—not only its rise but also its falling out of favor and even later being outright preached against? Are there any remnants of this doctrine alive in today’s Mormonism, even if they are no longer associated with the full teaching? The rise and fall of the Adam-God Doctrine also presents a classic case of doctrinal evolution (as well as fuzziness!) that contradicts the image many Latter-day Saints have of prophetic revelation coming through in perfectly clear ways. So how might Latter-day Saints frame this messier view of revelation that does not deny an important role for prophetic leadership?
In this episode, panelists Danielle Mooney, Brian Stuy, and Geoff Nelson join Mormon Matters host Dan Wotherspoon for a discussion of all these things. What is the teaching? When did it flourish? What aspects are still influencing Mormonism today?
We look forward to your listening and then joining in the discussion below!
David John Buerger, “The Adam-God Doctrine,” Dialogue 15, no 1 (Spring 1982).
Terrific overview article
Mormon Matters Episodes 105/106: “Mormon ‘Doctrine’ and Other Fuzzy Things.” Discussion of what doctrine is, how it evolves, its status within Mormonism, and possible framings for the nature of prophetic revelation
Website with quotations related to Adam-God.
Thank you, Antonio Trevisan Teixeira for the link!
Listeners, What else should we link to here?
Wow. I love it. I’m only 40 minutes in but I LOVE the idea that each wife of a God gets her own planet which would mean that ours is one of many planets for our God but for Eve this is Her special, own planet. She is our own special Mother.
Exactly. She isn’t called the “mother of all living” for nothin’! Always loved this explicit language from Brigham’s Oct 8, 1854 discourse:
Highly recommend reading the entire discourse. It is my favorite lecture of his on Adam-God. Even better than the lecture at the veil. Read it here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/86490565/Brigham-Young-s-October-8-1854-Discourse
If only we could get Nathan Wright to that discourse in his BY voice. Darn John Widtsoe for leaving so much meat out of the DBY!
Really well done. Much better job than Mormon Expression’s podcast on it. It certainly is a true doctrine that fills in the gaps on how the gods procreate and what holds for our future, should we conform to eternal law. But of course, I must keep quiet about it on Sundays because our mainstream church doesn’t want it discussed.
I very HIGHLY suggest Drew Briney’s book on the Adam-God doctrine. It is 98% quotes and about 2% commentary. It is organized in a very methodical way that helps piece the maze that can sometimes be Adam-God teachings. For more information on it, the Mormon Chronicle did an interview with Drew a couple years ago. (for some reason, it’s no longer online) A copy of Drew’s book is available here, though posted without his permission: http://www.scribd.com/doc/78873384/Understanding-Adam-God-Teachings
It really didn’t crystallize for me until I had read that book, which contains just about every known statement on the Adam-God teaching. When the big picture dawned on me, I weeped in amazement of the beauty of the doctrine. I had a similar reaction to Elder Franklin D. Richards: “At meeting of all the apostles except Grant and Merill, Pres. Snow led out on Adam being our father and God. How beautiful the thought – it brot [sic] God nearer to us. Bro Franklin [D. Richards] said it made him thrill through his whole body … it was inspiring.” (Brigham Young Jr. Diary, 10/12/1897).
I am not sure that my own faith crisis over the Adam-God teachings has been much of a faith crisis as it has been a discovery of personal revelation. I come from a spiritual learning era like Brian but believe maybe more now as Danielle. It is easy for me to see Brigham Young as a product of Joseph Smith, willing to think and ponder beyond the traditions to seek truth and make sense of the world as he understood it. Later Church Leaders did the same and resulted in even rejecting some earlier teachings when they saw the Church more as Dan stated an unveiling of the marble statue (I label this particular era a time of scholarship in achieving Church stability but not a time for really expounding theology). The historical evolution or de-evolution (if you will) of polygamy, the offices and roles of the priesthood, the succession of the presidency have all undergone similar processes, but maybe not drawn always as much attention. Today, I think we are in another transition that some future podcast will maybe discuss. I personally ponder theories that carrying eternal ideas way beyond the scope of Church Doctrine and incorporate concepts that can be found in other religions and/or social/cultural movements. But, I maintain my faith and membership in the Church due to it being the anchor of my spiritual endeavors. Good job Dan as moderator and keep queuing the music.
I had a thought while listening to this that Brigham Young must have had a certain complex of being the next leader in the ways he tried to prove it. Now, he obviously wasn’t a blood relative to Joseph so as the senior apostle he linked himself to Joseph by trying to demonstrate he was part of the in group by implementing everything occult Joseph taught. Obviously Joseph’s son wouldn’t have known all the occult things he said here or there and nether would have Emma. It must have made Brigham feel more legit since he sure wasn’t receiving revelations as a prophet, and nether did he claim to be one.
I didn’t know people still believed in Adam God. I don’t subscribe personally anymore to a literal Adam and Eve as related in scripture. I think science with evolution has a lot to show in the contrary. While scientists don’t have all the answers, we must realize that their epistemology to know things is far different than just having faith on the matter.
Good Grief!! How convoluted! How in the world do you trust anything the Church leaders say about anything? Is this the definition of wishy washy or what? Either Brigham was a liar and it was not true or He was a “Prophet” getting revelation and it was true. The “Prophets” that disputed it were either lying and it was true or they were not and it wasn’t. Either way someone is a liar there is no way around it. Is this LYING for the Lord too? How in the world does anyone rationalize this?
Where can I find the Adam/God teaching that was taught at the veil?
The more time that passes ever since I left and got away from the ‘church’, the more I realize how much whacked-out nonsense there is in Mormonism. However, when you are in the thick of it you can’t see the forest for the trees, as the saying goes. But when you leave the forest and stand on a hill looking back, you really see it for what it was — just a forest with all kinds of various trees and stuff in it and nothing really special, or unique at all. But to think that I used to believe in this ridiculous nonsense — that this forest (or my special tree in this forest) was the only true one, and that only Mormonism knew what it was really all about. Now I see it as incredible that so many people really think that they ‘know’ how and who God is, and what and how the ‘forest’ operates. Well, a lot of people believe in UFO abductions, and some even in a hollow earth and all that kind of stuff, so I suppose “Eve this is Her special, own planet” shouldn’t come as a surprise.
I hope that I’m not coming across as arrogant, or insulting, but I just can’t help to wonder that the sad part also is that so many Mormons think that *I* am wrong, and that I’ve “lost my salvation,” or have been deceived by and “sealed up unto Satan,” or some such nonsense. Yet, I remember my father (God rest his soul) and the mission president talking for hours about exalted beings living in our Sun (everlasting burnings) being a Celestial ‘world’ and all kinds of crazy stuff like that. These were educated men that actually believed that! Again, wow. Sad or funny, I don’t know. What a world.
Anyway, whether listening to a podcasst like this, or watching the X-Files, what’s the difference, really? It’s something to pass the time, I suppose.
I agree with you vikingz2000. How are we supposed to leave church and tell our children “you know all that stuff they told you was true…Well, truth may be a little relative in that it may be true for them but not literally true”. I can’t see putting my kids through that or understand how anybody does.
I realize that the Church is not perfect. Various leaders have taught their opinion as doctrine or mistakenly expanded teachings they didn’t understand correctly. Luckily, we as a church are pretty good about sifting that out over time. The church will continue to grow and align itself with Christ as we and our leaders seek Him.
I went back and forth on my faith for a bit, and I sometimes had doubts about teaching my kids that the church was true. Through that episode I asked God to give me an answer on the truthfulness of the church, I did my homework. and I kept the commandments. After a period of a few months I received an undeniable answer, one that has changed my outlook likely forever. Now I don’t have any problems teaching my kids the church is true, however I will be teaching them about the imperfection of man and how that even applies to church leaders. That way they can at the least avoid those feelings of disillusionment later in life.
Joseph Smith once said, “I never told you I was perfect, but there is no error in the revelations I have taught. Must I then be thrown away as a thing of naught?”
Brigham Young must have felt the same way. He liked to call himself the “Yankee Guesser”, because he hated to be compared to Jo. He also said,
“It is my duty to see that correct doctrine is taught and to guard the Church from error, it is my calling.”(Minutes of Council of the Twelve in upper room of Historian’s Office, April 4, 1860,” Thomas Bullock, scribe, Brigham Young Collection, LDS Archives.)
To lay this doctrine at the foot of imperfection is extremely naive.
Young claimed to have visions constantly. He said he was in communication with deity. He also said that you must have a visionary experience to be a witness to the doctrines you believe in. He also said this in the same discourse,
I am a witness that those are the revelations of the Lord through Joseph Smith, in this the last dispensation for the gathering of the people; and all who reject my testimony will go to hell, so sure as there is one, no matter whether it be hot or cold; they will incur the
displeasure of the Father and of the Son. (Journal of Discourses, Vol. 3, p.212)
He put it bluntly when he said,
“The people want revelation. This is revelation. If you wanted revelation written, I could write revelations every day about building a temple, digging gold, going
to England. I profess to be an Apostle. Every Apostle will have to be a revelator and have revelations if there are thousands, but then if they do their duty and live up to their calling, if not they will have to be removed.
But a man that is not an Apostle has not power to stand at the head of the Kingdom of God, hold the keys of the Priesthood and build up and lead the Church of God. The highest authority on the earth is an Apostle.” (Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, April 7, 1852)
Spencer W. Kimball made a serious error when he denounced Brigham Young’s legitimate revelation about Adam. It created a rift that cannot be bridged or undone. One of them has to be a false prophet. But if either of them is, Mormonism must fall with them. The credibility of all those who came after Young is destroyed. Either way, it is not resolvable unless you fool yourself into believing that these men were just imperfect guys who could easily go about preaching falsehoods in the name of God.
Just a quick response. The nature of revelation is very messy. That is one thing that the history of the church, especially the early church has taught us. Joseph Smith received that revelation about selling the copyright in Canada, and that turned out to not be true, and received a revelation later implying that he got it from his own head or from a devil. Also during the Book of Mormon translation, he expressed anxiety about being deceived when he discovered that Jerusalem had walls around the city and hadn’t know that to be a fact previously. Similarly Brigham and other prophets can have been deceived, however, by these historical precedents, it does not negate the Priesthood that continues in the church. Whether you side with Brigham or with Kimball, you don’t have to throw out the church because of false revelation.
By the way, this is probably the first time ever I’m expressing these views out loud, so if they didn’t come out clearly in the first response, it’s because I’m warming up still!
Ben, I might buy that if it were not for the fact that the church is still sending out missionaries that claim Joseph’s first vision as seeing God and Jesus while they know there to be different accounts (that are never talked about). They also still show pictures of Joseph reading the plates to translate the BOM and leave out the face in the hat. They will claim a geography in Mesoamerican and exclude Joseph’s claim of a white lamininte and great battle that took place in Missouri. There comes a point when you just have to say okay these people are being dishonest, and as good as their intentions might be it is wrong. By your standard we should not question any group’s devine claims should we?Jehovah’s Witnesses, Islam or Scientology can all stand on the same platform with you. Aren’t their truth claims just a genuine by your standard as Mormonism? If you want to say you find peace in this belief that is wonderful and I wish you the best, just don’t try to say it is the truth. You have no ground to make such a claim, and neither does church leadership. If other people find comfort in it I will support them, but you should rage against the lying in order to draw them in just as I do.
Husky, I don’t have a good response for you, except that I believe that many prophets including Joseph Smith said a lot of stuff that wasn’t inspired by the Spirit or that should not be viewed as true revelation. I personally like Joseph’s face in a hat, but I guess that just me! I think the church obviously promotes the simplest and least suspicious approach to church history. The church doesn’t promote that there was a time when Joseph would translate with his seer stone he dug up out of a well (I think?) with the plates buried out in the woods someplace, and I think that is an intelligent decision. There was also a time that Joseph used the Urim and Thummim, so there are two sides to the coin. I think the church wisely chooses to promote the somewhat simpler and easier to swallow side of the coin.
Anyways, I’ve been drawn in to discussing a specific subject which isn’t even your point! I apologize. I honestly not following your exact point, so if you could please write a bit more to help me out. Sorry!
No problem Ben, I’m sure you’re a great guy, and I’m glad the church works for you. My point was, how can anyone trust the “prophets” of today as having truth, when there has been a long history of them getting things wrong. The church has painted itself as the on true church on the face of the earth. I no longer see any evidence for that. If you do, I am happy for you. Many people are moving away from the literalist belief though and I’m sure you can appreciate their reasons for doing so. Best regards.
Like I said earlier, I was just wrestling with the skeptic view over the past year for many of the same reasons that we are talking about. If it wasn’t for my experience I was hinting at in my first response I would be teetering ever closer to your position. Best to you, too!
I have encountered members that think as you do many times. For me, it didn’t work. I can’t believe in a God that would play with people like that. The reason that I say this, is because if what you say is true, then God is working through base liars. It’s not the “nature of revelation” that is the problem, it is the vessels that are claiming that revelation. For example, Marion G. Romney once said,
“What we get out of general conference is a build-up of our spirits as we listen to those particular principles and practices of the gospel which the Lord inspires the present leadership of the Church to bring to our attention at the time. He knows why he inspired Brother Joseph F. Merrill to give the talk he just gave.He knows why he inspired the other brethren who have talked in this conference to say what they have said. It is our high privilege to hear, through these men, what the Lord would say if he were here. If we do not agree with what they say, it is because we are out of harmony with the Spirit of the Lord.” (Marion G. Romney, Conference Report, October 1950, p.126)
Romney is saying that these men are tight with God, but you are saying that God doesn’t care if they lie. I know, for me, I would never claim to have a revelation that I didn’t have. It’s a matter of personal integrity. But these men seem not to care (if what you say is true). That doesn’t fly.
If you think then, that the “priesthood” is perfect, well that doesn’t make sense either, because these men can’t use it (again according to a “revelation” by Jo) if they are unrighteous. And then you have the dilemma of even knowing if that revelation is true and real, because they are just hitting and missing with others. Would God work that way?
I don’t think so, and Mormonism teaches that He wouldn’t. So there is another problem.
If one has the gift of the Holy Spirit, then one could not teach false doctrine. To believe so, destroys the whole credibility of the Church. Here is another quote to think about,
“Nothing to my mind can be greater sacrilege in the sight of the Almighty than to undertake to speak in His name without the inspiration of His spirit. We may talk upon the branches of human learning and knowledge, speaking after the manner of men with but little of this feeling of timidity, but not when we undertake to speak of the principles of life and salvation, of the plan of human redemption as it has always existed—as it existed before the foundations of the world were laid, as it will continue to exist until every child of God except the sons of perdition shall be brought back and exalted in a degree of glory far beyond the comprehension of the finite mind. It has sometimes been said that Mormonism, so called, is narrow, proscriptive and selfish; yet those who comprehend it, even in part,have never made such an assertion.
Can a churchnot even bearing the name of the Redeemer, and having neither Apostles nor
Prophets, bear the fruits enjoyed by the disciples of our Lord in the days of and subsequent to His ministry? Do any of them ever claim to have such fruits? Who among them have the endowments of the Comforter, whose mission it was and is to bring the teachings of Jesus to the memory, show things to come and lead into all truth? God neither changes nor is he a respecter of persons; the causes, therefore, which lie ordained to produce certain results in one age will produce them in another.” (Moses Thatcher, JD:26:303-4, 10)
Of course, Thatcher was forced from his apostleship for not agreeing to sign a political manifesto by the First Presidency. They crucified him for not agreeing with their views. Seems like he had the right of it, but this was not the guiding principle of those that were in power. They say so, but the many instances of false doctrine nullify their assurances, then and now.
It leaves me with only one conclusion. These men are not prophets and are just floundering in the dark. I want nothing to do with such men. No one can be sure that the “priesthood” they claim is the power of God is real. It could just be another false “revelation” or folklore.
Grindael, I just want to clarify one point, and then I’ll leave it alone. You’ve clearly done a lot of thinking about this, but I would like to clarify my belief.
When I say the nature of revelation is messy I mean that it is an accepted Mormon doctrine that revelation can be had from God and they can be counterfeited by the devil. On top of that I believe the human brain can mistakenly assume a chain of ideas or a dream or some other experience is a revelation when it is actually just imagination, creativity, or logic and reasoning. In the early days of the church, there was a more open attitude towards revelation both among the members and the leaders (from what I can gather). I believe this led to a lot of
The problem with what you have given above, is that it is not what Mormon “prophets” have taught from the beginning of the church. They have taught very consistently that if one does not have the Holy Ghost, then one does not teach. They say that they know what the Holy Ghost is, and that they were always, constantly inspired of it. This leaves no room for doubt. Either they did, or they were lying. There is no room for error. Not when they were in Conference and acting in their “divine callings” as living witnesses to Christ. John Taylor said,
“Well, who were the ancient Apostles? They
were men chosen and selected by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Who were these Prophets? Men who were in possession of the spirit of prophecy; and you show me a man who is called and inspired of God to preach the Gospel of Jesus Christ,and I will show you a Prophet, for we are told that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy;” and if a man has not the spirit of prophecy and revelation he is not the man to teach the things of God, for that is the principle by which all God’s chosen an authorized ministers in every age have been inspired, and by which they have taught the things of eternal life to the children of men.”
You are trying to explain away their false teachings, false prophecy and lies. (We know, for example that Jo and every one of his inner circle flat out lied about polygamy).
You can’t do it with what they themselves have said about the nature of their callings and gifts. The problem is, what they DID, did not live up to what they SAID they were.
I think it just comes down to the idea that I’m more willing to see these guys as inspired men who sometimes over reached without knowing, and you see them as outright liars. I think we have defined our difference of viewpoint rather clearly now.
As far as the statements and concepts you just introduced. I obviously don’t hold them to that very high standard they believed to hold themselves to.
Here is one example directly related to Adam-god. This is from a meeting in 1860 where Brigham Young and the entire hierarchy of the church stood against Orson Pratt for refusing to accept Young’s revelation. Here is what Wilford Woodruff said to Pratt,
“W. Woodruff arose and said Brother Orson Pratt I wish to ask you one or two questions. You see that the spirit and doctrin which you possess is entirely in a oposition to the First Presidency The Quorum of the Twelve, and all who are present this evening and it Chills the Blood in our veins to hear your words & feel your spirit. Should not this be an Evidence to you that you are wrong? What would become of the Quorum of the Twelve if we all felt as you do? We should all go to Hell in a pile to gether.
You say you are honest in the Course you are pursueing. I wish to ask you if you was honest when you said that if you had known that President Young worshiped a God without life or Attributes that you would not have written what you did. (O Pratt said I will recall that.) It was an insult to President Young and the Holy Priesthood which he holds. Evry man in this room who has a particle of the spirit of God knows that President Young is a Prophet of God and that God sustains him and He has the Holy Spirit and his doctrins are true. and that he is qualifyed to lead the people and he has explained evry thing so plain this evening that a Child Can understand [p.428] it and yet it is no evidence to you. Nothing Can make an impression upon you. No argument can reach your understanding. (January 27, 1860, Wilford Woodruff’s Journal, Vol. 5, p. 427)
Woodruff said that Young had the Spirit of God and everyone in that meeting affirmed it. Were all of those people just wrong? If Young taught false doctrine then they all lied when they said they had the Holy Spirit. Is that a constant in Mormonism? If so, like I said above, you can’t trust anything they say, because today, would be no different from back then.
If what you say is true, then the church “gradually” got the Holy Spirit to direct them to correct thinking. That makes no sense at all and there is not one Mormon Historian that would agree with you.
As for the Priesthood, there is not one contemporary piece of evidence to show that angels restored it, but we do have lots of evidence that Jo and Oliver changed the revelations after the fact to rewrite history.
Sorry, that does not give me confidence that there was any priesthood restored to Jo and Oliver, and with your take that things happened gradually, we have no other account of it being done at a later time.
So, I would rather not follow these men, because the most logical conclusion that can be arrived at is that they are lying.
Just wanted to clarify my thoughts. Good luck with your journey.
I think my “gradual theory” actually fits well as a model for many bodies of knowledge. They are often developed over long periods of time and are shaped by the experience of contributors. Our own opinions and knowledge often follow the same course.
I don’t know that we are really getting anywhere with this conversation/debate. I understand where you are coming from, and wish you the best in your journey too.
Sorry, but The “gradual theory” does not fit in with what Mormon “prophets” have revealed about how God works.
He that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God; yea, unto such it shall be given to reveal things which never have been revealed. (Alma 26:22)
If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries . . . for unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom, but unto the world it is not given to know them. (D&C 42:61, 65)
Are these empty promises? They say nothing about a “gradual” dispersal of knowledge. They say if you are in good standing with God and you simply ASK you will have this knowledge. To make the gradual theory work, you have to say that Mormon “prophets” are not worthy to ask, but we know by their histories that they did. (Brigham Young said he did with Adam-god, and that it was a direct revelation of God to him).
So, when they did ask and were answered, they only got “folklore”.? Or they could not determine if it was from God or Satan? This makes no sense. My above quotes show that this is not the case. So, who is lying, Spencer Kimball, or Brigham Young?
This can’t be easily explained away by speculation that God only worked to “gradually” reveal knowledge to those who claimed to have the right to be the very oracles of God and that what they claimed to have revealed to them was only some kind of opinion or folklore.
My experience tells me differently. When I was a teenager I had the misconception that I could receive revelation whenever I wanted. A little voice in my head would have a back and forth with me. I believed this was the “tongue of angels” or in other words a conversation with the holy spirit whenever I wanted, instantaneous, on command revelation. At some point I became aware of the fact that prophets taught that revelation isn’t constant or on command, but I justified myself by telling myself I was special.
When I left for my mission this stuff really took off. With all the scripture study I was doing I started developing my own personal theology built on top of Mormon theology. I believed that I had learned these things through revelation. Near the middle of my mission things had developed a fair amount, and I began having very negative spiritual experiences. It finally dawned on me that I had gone far down a path of false revelation, and I had mistook my own imagination and evil influences for the spirit of God. I repented, and with the mission president’s help I set myself aright. During the remainder of my mission I had a number of powerful positive spiritual experiences that helped me keep my testimony.
It wasn’t until years later that I began finding out about the peculiarities of church history in great detail. Having experienced all that I had, I had my own unique reaction and take on things like the church rift over Adam-God theory. It never occurred to me that these men lied about their experience, and even in my most skeptical periods I never suspected that. It always seemed too far fetched to me. In my opinion it is more likely, that like so many other religious leaders, and like myself, there had been confusion about the function and operation of revelation, which leaves room to be deceived.
You have an interesting take on things. I also served a mission, etc.
So, you are saying that (I think) there can’t be any receiving of revelation instantly… Unfortunately, this is a straw man argument, because I don’t know of anyone that says this. I surely did not. But, according to what I quoted above, Priesthood holders have the RIGHT to revelation, and there is nothing that says that it WON’T come. Jo Smith received many “revelations” in an almost instantaneous manner. Let’s see if I can illustrate.
“The Holy Ghost is a revelator,” and “no man can receive the Holy Ghost without receiving revelations” (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Joseph Smith , 132). Quoted by David Bednar in 2013 GC.
So, if, as Mormonism claims men have the “constant companionship” of the Holy “Ghost”, then what is the problem? Is it you? I say this because Jo Smith said,
“I, the Lord, am bound when ye do what I say; but when ye do not what I say, ye have no promise.” (D&C 82:10.) Therefore,
If thou shalt ask, thou shalt receive revelation upon revelation, knowledge upon knowledge, that thou mayest know the mysteries . . . for unto you it is given to know the mysteries of the kingdom, but unto the world it is not given to know them. (D&C 42:61, 65)
So what’s the problem?
Are you then saying that Brigham Young and the entire Quorum of the Twelve, and every other Church Authority except Orson Pratt, was CONFUSED about Adam-god? That the devil mass deceived them all? Now that is interesting.
Hey, do you just want to take this conversation off of a comment thread, maybe to a chat or something like that?
my email is email@example.com
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org, send me a message there so we can talk more easily. Talking on this comment thread is kind of awkward.
It’s a project of mine that needs to be finished, but for what it’s worth:
The McConkie quote reflects what most LDS believed in his day. While the Adam/God Doctrine expresses what most believed in BY’s day. This confirms my view that you really can’t hold as firm anything that’s taught at any time. It could all change tomorrow. How can anything spoken as gospel (even in conference) have any validity.
I’m a month late on listening and responding to this episode, but WOW! File this under “essential listening” for anyone who wants to understand the Adam/God teachings better. As a student of religious history, going through this reminded me of how rooted Mormonism is in the “Romantic era” of its times: a counter-response to Enlightenment positivism wherein the “deeper truths” were sought from within. Personal reflection, instinctual feelings, and moments of inspiration (no matter how fleeting) were lauded as evidence of divine communication. We are in such a different (more skeptical) time now. I appreciate the wildly innovative boldness of our forebears, and I think the Adam/God ideas are reflective of that wrestling process with “greater cosmological truths,” even if the results were highly imaginative, outlandish, and gender-biased.
President Young was and extremely busy man, and did not have time to be a scriptorian. But he was close to the Prophet Joseph Smith and trusted him. It is completely believable that President Young was taught Adam-God doctrines by the Prophet Joseph as Brigham claimed. And the fact that Brigham did not square the doctrine with the scriptures, is completely consistent. Without further revelation the church was right in laying this doctrine aside. But in our time, the revelation of March, 1972 in the Second Book of Commandments has mysteries unfolded– and it shows that there was much truth in the Adam-God teachings of President Young. But it also shows that there was one significant error in his teachings.
I very much enjoyed the podcast. I’m not sure what if any of the doctrine is true, but I very much believe the concept that everyone, including prophets, in all ages have an imperfect understanding of truth. I also believe false revelation can creep in and true revelation can be discarded. Life seems to be a journey of learning how to tell the difference and incorporating the good into our lives.
If anyone is interested, I’ve added to the discussion here: http://mormoncontroversies.wordpress.com/2013/10/03/brigham-young-adam-god/ The purpose of the article is to give an overview of Adam-God and give believing members tools for dealing with some of the issues it raises.
Ben, I admire your efforts to express your faith and understanding; plus, to civilly disagree with those that hold up historical references of imperfect souls — as if they are perfect themselves here and now — as basis for their decisions and their own efforts to troll others into disbelief.
The wisdom of President Spencer W. Kimball’s counsel rings loudly:
“We warn you against the dissemination of doctrines which are not according to the scriptures and which are alleged to have been taught by some of the General Authorities of past generations. Such, for instance, is the Adam-God theory. We denounce that theory and hope that everyone will be cautioned against this and other kinds of false doctrine.” Priesthood Session, October 1976.
It must be time to move on to faith, repentance, and other less controversial matters.
The AG debate has been so widespread due to the internet, it is no longer somehting that is secretive anymore.
Right or wrong or in-between, the AG “theory/doctrine” has plusses and minuses. If looked at as a whole, much of it IS doctrinal even today. Other details are yet to be reconcilled if that is even possible.
But MY view is, know it. Study it with an eye for being at least as informed as the anits who use it against the LDS.
The church does not rise of fall on this issue despite the claims of the fundamentalists.
Sorry to have come to this so late…
The discussion about the AG doctrine in as much as it illuminates the persona of our mother in heaven is very interesting to me. I had always assumed the church’s queasiness on the subject of Heavenly Mother stemmed from its patriarchal nature and therefore fear of drawing attention to the female divine (even as a child I felt that the church’s assertion that Heavenly Mother was “too sacred” to talk about was a bogus excuse). After listening to the podcast I wonder if perhaps at least some of the church’s silence on the subject is in fact a remnant of the desire to distance itself from the Adam God theory.
Interesting podcast. Thank you.